Изображения страниц

One son, Daniel Defoe, emigrated to Carolina, carrying with him, as his father's representative, a liberal contribution to that stock of Anglo-Saxon intellect (or true-born English!) that has made our Transatlantic cousins (of whom we are so naturally proud) a nation beloved and honoured wherever our common

which he first drew the breath of died. life. Whether he expired in a decent lodging, or in a dismal garret-whether alone, or tended in his last moments by his wife and children, it is impossible to say. The Parish Register contains the fullest account extant of his interment :-" 1731, Daniel Defoe, gentleman. To Tindall's (Lethargy). April 26." Tindall's was the general burial-ground for Dis


A twinge shakes the nerves as we read that ambiguous word gentleman. It is such a pretty title to give Daniel Defoe.

The man who, when a beardless youth, saw the truth, and fearlessly declared it who risked his life for what he felt to be his duty--who fought zealously, and without fainting, for freedom, and was, without doubt, an instrument in the hands of Providence for the preservation of our national religion-for in those days of peril, when the weight of a feather would at times have turned the balance in favour of Romanism, Protestantism was guarded not by the Anglican priesthood (for they betrayed her), but by the great champions of spiritual freedom, the Nonconformists-the man who laboured effectually in consolidating the sister countries of England and Scotland; who was the cause of innumerable social reforms, amongst which the removal of the abuses of the sanctuary at Whitefriars (Alsatia), and the Mint, may be mentioned; who raised his voice against the cruelties of slavery, devised schemes for the amelioration of the poor, and continually urged that woman, so formed by nature to elevate man, should be raised from the depths of ignorance, which was her lot in most cases; the man who tried so many fields of literature, and gained distinction in them all ; he who, honourable, singlehearted, fierce in the day of battle, was worthy the regard and confidence of England's last great king, William III. -was Daniel Defoe, gentleman!

Not many insights do we get into Defoe's domestic life. He was married twice; firstly, to Mary; and, secondly, to Susannah, but the maiden surname of neither is known. In the year 1706, he had seven children; but in 1707, his daughter Martha



tongue is spoken. Another son, Bernard, took the name of Norton, and was mentioned by Pope in the "Dunciad." He was editor of "The Flying Post," and was the author of "A Complete Dictionary, by B. N. Defoe, Gent., 1735," a "Memoir of the House of Orange," and "The Life of Alderman Barber." The daughters managed to recover their property from their despicable brother, and settled comfortably in life--Hannah as a maiden lady, Henrietta as the wife of a gentleman of condition. Sophia's (Mrs. Baker's) son lived to be the author of "The Companion to the Play-house." A great grandson of Defoe was hanged at Tyburn, Jan. 2, 1771; and another great grandson was, in 1787, cook on the Savage sloop-of-war. These two last, we may presume, were the descendants of the wretch who, whilst "living in a profusion of plenty," allowed his mother and sisters to be in want! From this branch came "the poor descendant from Defoe," to support whose old age there has lately been an appeal to the charitable in

the columns of the Times.

In what estimation are we to hold Defoe as a writer of fiction? And for what is the English novel indebted to him? The latter question can be answered in a few words and with great precision. Defoe brought into the domain of imaginative prosewriting graphic descriptions of scenes, events and mental emotions, and quick, pointed conversations.

Colonel Jack, a poor miserable little beggar boy (if miserable may be ap plied to an urchin with good health and spirits) comes into possession of £5 as his share of a plunder he has achieved with another and an older lad. Hear his story :

Nothing could be more perplexing than this money was to me all that night. I carried it in my hand a good while, for it was in gold, all but fourteen shillings; and that is to say, it was four guineas, and that fourteen shillings was more difficult to carry


than the four guineas. At last I eat down and pulled off one of my shoes, and put the four guineas in that; but after I had gone awhile, my shoe hurt me, so I could not go; so I was fain to sit down again, and take it out of my shoe, and carry it in my hand; then I found a dirty linen rag in the street, and I took that up and wrapped it all together, and carried it in that a good way. I have often since heard people say, when they have been talking of money that they could not get in, I wish I had it in a foul clout; in truth, I had mine in a foul clout; for it was foul according to the letter of that saying, but it served me till I came to a convenient place, and then I sat down and washed the cloth in the kennel, and so put my money in again.

The boy carries the money to his lodging and lies down to sleep, with his hand, clutching it, thrust into his bosom.

Every now and then dropping asleep, I should dream that my money was lost, and start like one frightened; then, finding it fast in my hand, try to go to sleep again, but could not for a long while, then drop and start again. At last a fancy came into my head, that if I fell asleep, I should dream of the money, and talk of it in my sleep, and tell that I had money; which if I should do, and one of the rogues should hear me, they would pick it out of my bosom, and of my hand too, without waking me; and after that thought I could not sleep a wink more: so I passed that night over in care and anxiety enough; and, this, I may safely say, was the first night's rest that I lost by the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches.

When daycame, he wandered towards Stepney, turning in his mind what he should do with his wealth; and at last sitting down and crying in his perplexity. Then he rises and goes in search of a tree to hide it in.

I crossed the road at Mile End; and in the middle of the town went down a lane that goes to the Blind Beggar's at Bethnalgreen. When I came a little way over the lane, I found a foot-path over the fields, and in those fields several trees for my turn as I thought at last, one tree had a little hole in it, pretty high out of my reach, and I climbed up the tree to get it; and when I came there, I put my hand in, and found, as I thought, a place very fit; so I placed my treasure there, and was mightly well satisfied with it; but, behold, putting my hand in again, to lay it more commodiously, as I thought, of a sudden it slipped away from me, and I found the tree was hollow, and my

little parcel was fallen in quite out of my reach, and how far it might go in I knew not; so, that in a word, my money was quite gone, irrecoverably lost; there could be no room so much as to hope ever to see it again, for 'twas a vast great tree.

As young as I was, I was now sensible what a fool I was before, that I could not think of ways to keep my money, but I must come thus far to throw it into a hole where I could not reach it: well, I thrust my hand quite up to my elbow, but no bottom was to be found, or any end of the hole or cavity; I got a stick of the tree, and thrust it in a great way, but all was one; then I cried, nay, roared out, I was in such a passion then I got down the tree, then up again, and thrust in my hand again, till I scratched my arm, and made it bleed violently; then I began to think I had not so much of it as a half-penny of it left for a half-penny roll, and I was hungry, and then I cried again then I came away in despair, crying and roaring like a boy that had been whipped; then I went back again to the tree, and up the tree again, and thus I did several times.

The last time I had gotten up the tree I happened to come down not on the same side that I went up and came down before, but on the other side of the tree, and on the other side of the bank also; and, behold, the tree had a great open place in the side of it close to the ground, as old hollow trees often have; and looking into the open place, to my inexpressible joy there lay my money and my linen rag, all wrapped up just as I had put it into the hole; for the tree being hollow all the way up, there had been some moss or light stuff, which I had not judgment enough to know was not firm, that had given way when it came to drop out of my hand, and so it had slipped quite down

at once.

I was but a child, and I rejoiced like a child, for I hollo'd quite out aloud when I saw it; thus I ran to it and snatched it up, hugged and kissed the dirty rag a hundred times; then danced and jumped about, and was from one end of the field to the other; and, in short, I knew not what, much less do I know what I did, though I shall never forget the thing, either what a sinking grief it was to my heart when I thought I had lost it, or what a flood of joy overwhelmed me when I had got it again.

Jack now goes to an old clothesshop in Whitechapel, and looks at the clothes hanging at the door.

"Well, young gentleman," says a man that stood at the door, "you look wishfully; do you see anything you like, and will your pocket compass a good coat now, for you look as if you belong to the ragged regiment?" I was affronted at the fellow. "What's that to you," says I, "how ragged I am? If I

had seen anything I liked I had money to pay for it; but I can go where I shan't be huffed at for looking."

While I said this boldly to the fellow, comes out a woman. "What ails you," says she to the man, "to bully away your customers so? A poor boy's money is as good as my lord mayor's: if poor people did not buy old clothes, what would become of our business?" and then turning to me, 66 come hither, child," says she, "if thou hast a mind to anything I have, you shan't be hectored by him; the boy is a pretty boy I assure you," says she to another woman that was by this time come to her. "Ay," says the other, "so he is a very well-looking child, if he was clean and well-dressed, and maybe as good a gentleman's son, for anything we know, as any of those that are well dressed; come, my dear," says she, "tell me what it is you would have?" She pleased me mightily to hear her talk of my being a gentleman's son, and it brought former things to my mind; but when she talked of my being not clean, and in rags, I cried.

She pressed me to tell her if I saw anything that I wanted; I told her no, all the clothes I saw were too big for me. "Come, child," says she "I have two things that will fit you, and I am sure you want them both; that is, first, a little hat, and there," says she (tossing it to me), "I'l give you that for nothing: and here is a good warm pair of breeches: I dare say,' says she, "they will fit yon, and they are very tight and good; and," says she," if you should ever come to have so much money that you don't know what to do with it, here are excellent good pockets," says she, "and a little fob to put your gold in, or your watch in, when you get it."

[ocr errors]

It struck me with a strange kind of joy, that I should have place to put my money in, and need not to go to hide it again in a hollow tree, that I was ready to snatch the breeches out of her hands, and wondered that I should be such a fool as never to think of buying me a pair of breeches before, that I might have a pocket to put my money in, and not carry it about two days in my hand, and in my shoe, and I knew not how; so, in a word, I gave her two shillings for the breeches, and went over into the churchyard and put them on, and put my money into my new pockets, and was as pleased as a prince is with his coach and six horses. I thanked the good woman too for the hat, and told her I would come again when I got more money, and buy some other things I wanted, and so I came away.

Little Jack now undertakes to restore some stolen notes to their rightful owner, and get the reward of £30 offered for their recovery. The notes were stolen in the long room of the Custom-house, by a lad to whom Jack was confederate. Hear him :

[blocks in formation]

While I stood there, one thrust me this way and another that way, and the man that sat behind began to look at me; at last he called out to me, "What does that boy do there? get you gone, sirrah; are you one of the rogues that stole the gentleman's lettercase on Monday last?" Then he turns his tale to a gentleman that was doing business with him, and goes on thus: "Here was Mr. had a very unlucky chance on Monday last; did you not hear of it?" "No, not I," says the gentleman. "Why, standing just there, where you do," says he, "making entries, he pulled out his lettercase, and laid it down, as he says, but just at his hand, while he reached over to the standish there for a penful of ink, and somebody stole away his letter-case."

"His letter-case!" says t'other, "whatand was there any bills in it?"

"Ay," says he; "there was Sir Stephen Evans' note in it for £300, and another goldsmith's bill for about £12, and, which is still worse for the gentleman, he had two foreign accepted bills in it for a great sum, I know not how much, I think one was a French bill for 1,200 crowns."

"And who could it be?" says the gentleman.

"Nobody knows," says he; "but one of our room-keepers says he saw a couple of young rogues like that," pointing at me, hanging about here, and that on a sudden they were both gone."

[ocr errors]


Villains," says he again; "why, what can they do with them, they will be of no use to them? I suppose he went immediately and gave notice to prevent the payment."

"Yes," says the clerk, "he did; but the rogues were too nimble for him with the little bill of £12 odd money; they went and got the money for that, but all the rest are stopped; however, 'tis an unspeakable damage to him for want of his money."

"Why, he should publish a reward for the encouragement of those that have them to bring them again; they would be glad to bring them, I warrant you."

"He has posted it up at the door that he will give £30 for them."


Ay, but he should add that he will promise not to stop, or give any trouble to the person that brings them."

"He has done that too," says he; "but I fear they wont trust themselves to be honest, for fear he should break his word."

"Why, it is true, he may break his word in that case, but no man should do so; for then no rogue will venture to bring hom

anything that is stolen, and so he would do an injury to others after him."

"I durst pawn my life for him he would corn it."

Thus far they discoursed of it, and then went to something else; I heard it all, but did not know what to do a great while; but at last, watching the gentleman that went away, when he was gone, I run after him to have spoken to him, intending to have broke it to him, but he went hastily into a room or two, full of people, at the other end of the long room, and when I went to follow, the door-keepers turned me back, and told me I must not go in there; so I went back and loitered about near the man that sat behind the board, and hung about there till I heard the clock strike twelve, and the room began to be thin of people; and at last he sat there writing, but nobody stood at the board before him, as there had all the rest of the morning, then I came a little nearer and stood close to the board as I did before; when looking up from his paper and seeing me, says he to me-"You have been up and down here all this morning, sirrah, what do you want? you have some business that is not very good I doubt.'

"No, I shan't," said I.

"No? it is well if you hav'n't," says he; 'pray what business can you have in this long room, sir; you are no merchant?"

"I would speak with you," said I. "With me," says he "what have you to say to me?"

"I have something to say," said I, "if you will do me no harm for it.'

"I do thee harm, child; what harm should I do thee?" and spoke very kindly. "Wont you indeed, sir," said I.

"No, not I, child; I'll do thee no harm; what is it? do you know anything of the gentleman's letter-case?"

I answered, but spoke softly, that he could not hear me; so he gets over presently into the seat next him, and opens a place that was made to come out, and bade me go in to him; and I did.

Then he asked me again, if I knew anything of the letter-case.

I spoke softly again, and said, folks would hear him.

Then he whispered softly, and asked me again.

I told him, I believed I did; but that, indeed, I had it not, nor had no hand in stealing it, but it was gotten into the hands of a boy that would have burnt it, if it had not been for me; and that I heard him say that the gentleman would be glad to have them again, and give a good deal of money for them.

"I did say so, child," said he; "and if you can get them for him, he shall give you a good reward, no less than £30, as he has promised."

"But you said too, sir, to the gentleman

just now," said I, "that you was sure he would not bring them into any harm that should bring them."

"No, you shall come to no harm; I will pass my word for it."

Boy.-Nor shan't they make me bring other people into trouble?

Gent. No, you shall not be asked the name of anybody, nor to tell who they are.

Boy. I am but a poor boy, and I would fain have the gentleman have his bills, and indeed I did not take them away, nor han't I

[blocks in formation]

Gent. Come to my house, child. Boy.-I don't know where you live. Gent.-Go along with me now, and you shall see. So he carried me up into Towerstreet, and showed me his house, and ordered me to come there at five o'clock at night; which accordingly I did, and carried the letter-case with me.

When I came, the gentleman asked me if I had brought the book, as he called it. "It is not a book," said I.


"No, the letter-case, that's all one," says

"You promised me," said I, "you would not hurt me," and cried.

"Don't be afraid, child," says he, "I will not hurt thee, poor boy; nobody shall hurt thee."

"Here it is, said I," and pulled it out.

He then brought in another gentleman, who it seems owned the letter case, and asked him, "if that was it?" and he said, "yes."

Then he asked me if all the bills were in it? I told him I heard him say there was one gone, but I believed there was all the rest. "Why do you believe so?" says he. "Because I heard the boy, that I believe stole them, say they were too big for him to meddle with.'

The gentleman, then, that owned them, said, "Where is the boy?"

Then the other gentleman put in, and said, "No, you must not ask him that; I passed my word that you should not, and that he should not be obliged to tell it to anybody."

"Well, child," says he, "you will let us see the letter-case opened, and whether the bills are in it ?"

"Yes," says I.

Then the first gentleman said, "How many bills were there in it?"

[ocr errors]

Only three," says he; "besides the bill of £12 10s., there was Sir Stephen Evans's note for £300, and two foreign bills."

"Well, then, if they are in the letter-case

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Then said the first man, "Then I am security to the poor boy for the money.' "Well, but," says the gentleman, "the rogues have got the £12 10s.; they ought to reckon that as part of the £30." Had


he asked me, I should have consented to it at first word; but the first man stood my friend. Nay," says he, "it was since you knew that the £12 10s. was received that you offered £30 for the other bills, and published it by the crier, and posted it up at the Custom-house, and I promised him the £30 this morning." They argued long, and I thought would have quarrelled about it.

However at last they both yielded a little, and the gentleman gave me £25 in good guineas. When he gave it me, he bade me hold out my hand, and he told the money into my hand; and when he had done, he asked me if it was right? I said I did not know, but I believed it was. "Why," says he, can't you tell it?" I told him "No; I never saw so much money in my life, nor I did not know how to tell money.' "Why," says he, "don't you know that they are guineas?" "No," I told him; "I did not know how much a guinea was.'


[ocr errors]

"Why, then," says he, "did you tell me you believed it was right?" I told him, "because I believed he would not give it me wrong."

"Poor child," says he, "thou knowest little of the world, indeed; what are thou?" "I am a poor boy," says I, and cried.

"What is your name?" says he;-" but hold, I forgot," said he; "I promised I would not ask your name, so you need not tell me."

[ocr errors]

My name is Jack,” said I.

"Why, have you no sirname?" said he. "What is that?" said I.

"You have some other name besides Jack," says he; "han't you?"

"Yes," says I; "they call me Colonel Jack."

"But have you no other name?"

"No," said I.

"How came you to be called Colonel Jack, pray ?"

"They say," said I, "my father's name was colonel.'

"Is your father or mother alive?" said he.
"No," said I; "my father is dead."
"Where is your mother, then ?" said be.
"I never had e'er a mother," said I.


This made him laugh. What," said he; had you never a mother, what then?"

"I had a nurse," said I, "but she was not my mother."

"Well," says he to the gentleman, "I dare say this boy was not the thief that stole your bills."

"Indeed, sir, I did not steal them," said I, and cried again.

"No, no, child," said he; "we don't believe you did. This is a very clever boy,' says he to the other gentleman; "and yet very ignorant and honest; 'tis pity some care should not be taken of him, and something done for him; let us talk a little more with him." So they sat down and drank wine, and gave me some, and then the first gentleman talked to me again.

"Well," says he, "what wilt thou do with this money now thou hast it ?" "I don't know," said I.

"Where will you put it?" said he.
"In my pocket," said I.

"In your pocket?" said he; "is your pocket whole? sha'n't you lose it?"

"Yes," said I, "my pocket is whole."
"And where will you put it when you get

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]


Why," says he; what do you lie on at the glass-house?"

The ground," says I; "and sometimes a little straw, or upon the warm ashes."

Here the gentleman that lost the bills said, "This poor child is enough to make a man weep for the miseries of human nature, and be thankful for himself; he puts tears into my eyes;"" and into mine," says the other.

"Well, but hark ye, Jack," says the first gentleman; "do they give you no money when they send you of errands ?"


They give me victuals," said I; "and that's better."

"But what," says he, clothes?"

[ocr errors]

"do you do for

They give me sometimes old things," said I; "such as they have to spare." "Why, you have never a shirt on, I believe," said he; "have you?"

[ocr errors]

No, I never had a shirt," said I, "since my nurse died."

"How long ago is that?" said he. "Six winters when this is out," said I. "Why, how old are you?" said he. "I can't tell you," said I. "Well," says the gentleman;

"now you

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »